Defrost(ed) (Courtney McKinney-Whitaker)

I haven't been around YA Outside the Lines very much this year, a fact that is directly related to the word I chose for 2018 back in January: Defrost.

(As I consider the state of the polar ice caps and our freefall into irreversible climate change, I'm thinking this might have been a great word for me, but not such a great one for the planet. I'm writing this two days before Christmas in Pennsylvania. It's a balmy 47 degrees outside and my grass is very green. We had a thunderstorm two days ago. This is weird.)

This time last year, I felt frozen, unable to make a move for fear it would be the wrong one, writing or otherwise. I had just moved across the country for the third time in my adult life, I was between jobs, and I am the mother of a young child. All of that can add up to a lot of isolation.

Oh, and I couldn't think of any good writing ideas.

However, I'm happy to report that in January, I got a job that is perfect for this phase of my life (read: flexible). In February, I got to spend two weeks in Northern Ireland, and in March, I finally came upon the snippet of research that led to the new Civil War-era adult historical I'm now deeply involved in writing.

I decided to invest in my craft this year, which meant developing the book idea during an online retreat over the course of a long weekend in June and working with a book coach to develop my first draft. If you haven't tried working with a book coach, I highly recommend it. Google it!

In September I got to go on my second trip to Scotland in two years. I got to see some new things and some things I'd seen before. It was awesome. (We pretty much spend our money on travel and books in this house. My husband is an expert at cheap travel: go in the off season and travel with family to split the cost of lodging, rental cars, and food. We're trying to get in as much as we can before the school schedule kicks in and dooms us to summer trips.)

I've made friends in my new home; I no longer feel so alone.

My drafting process is coming along well, even if it's slower than I'd like, even with trimming down my commitments. (That's why I haven't been around here very much.) I have words to work with, and eventually, I'll have another book. At least I know I'm headed in the right direction now.

And of course, just as I got myself defrosted, my daughter became obsessed with Frozen, so another thing I accomplished in 2018 is learning all the words to "Let It Go."